If you're still reading my words, I'm telling you this because our discussions after we watch each episode have me thinking about the struggle for faith. Everything was new and scary - everything was shadowed and ambiguous in the world of the early apostles. There were no maps, no clear paths, nothing they could really take for granted. And yet, a movement that so many tried to squash, that so many thought was irrelevant, has been inexplicably successful - spreading all over the world - and now comprising nearly a third of the world's population.
Now, we find ourselves in this new era of ambiguity. What does it mean to be a Christian in this day and age? What does it mean for us to be "church" in this time and place? So many of us in our parishes across the country are asking these questions. Our Presiding Bishop is so eloquent in his explanation and preaching of the "Jesus Movement" - and our own Bishops are inspirational in their preaching of "God's Mission" - and how we participate in it. How we get on board and become part of what God is already doing around us.
I wonder, too, if we don't need to rediscover the struggle of the book of Acts. If we don't need to rediscover the persistent, joyful posture of the apostles - people who needed to be brave, flexible, and inventive about sharing their faith. Isn't it time we return to this book? And learn how to really be with one another as we seek still to be in the world speaking Jesus' name?
Our modern-day doctrinal and theological arguments are no different - and no less important - that the arguments of their time - especially between Peter and Paul. Ultimately, so many of these arguments are about who is "in" and who is "out". And our struggles are no greater, no more complex, no more pressing than the very real, life and death struggles of these early communities. So, as we watch this (largely fictional) series, as we read the text, and compare and contrast what we've seen - as we pull at and explore these early decisions - I invite you to read this great book of the Bible with us. And see what you think. I'm curious to know what you think about the book - and what it might have to teach us today about God's mission and our part in it...and how well - or not well - we're doing at loving and being with each other. It's rich ground. And I look forward to what you think.
If you're looking for a good translation to read for free online - you can go right here - and read chapter by chapter beginning with Acts 1.
Also - what do you think the title of our book would be? Will be? When the story of our time is written? If you were in charge of the cliff notes - both for our parish and for the church more broadly - what are the highlights? And are they good? Or are there lowlights* as well?
Peace to you.
*I think I just made that word up? But you know where I'm headed.